- Thomson Reuters
- Republicans were hesitant to join Democrats in demanding Sen. Al Franken resign over sexual misconduct allegations.
- Should embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore win Alabama’s special election next week, he would face the same scrutiny by the Ethics Committee, a process that many Republicans defended.
WASHINGTON – After Senate Democrats calling for Sen. Al Franken to resign over sexual misconduct allegations snowballed on Wednesday, Republicans across the aisle gave mixed responses on what to do, as an incoming colleague is facing a massive scandal of surrounding similar accusations himself.
When yet another woman came forward accusing Franken of misconduct on Wednesday, several Democratic women in the Senate demanded he resign. The move prompted more senators to call for the Minnesota Democrat’s resignation, leading Franken to announce a press conference for Thursday morning, during which he is expected to address his political future.
Senate Republicans have been hesitant to join Democrats in demands that Franken step down
“The women in the Senate have sent a pretty clear message,” Sen. Steve Daines of Montana told Business Insider, who when pressed further said, “I respect their position and it seems to be a pretty strong message and pretty unified.”
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley dodged questions on Franken.
“I think I ought to give [Franken] the courtesy of listening to what he has to say tomorrow,” he said. “I think I’ll do that.”
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman suggested the process should play itself out regarding Franken, noting the investigation underway by the Senate Ethics Committee.
“My understanding is they’ve started an ethics investigation and I strongly support that,” Portman said. “And we should see what the ethics investigation finds out but if it finds out that he’s engaged in this behavior, then yes [Franken should resign].”
Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina echoed Portman’s take on Franken in wanting a complete and thorough ethics investigation before any decision is made.
“I think we need to be consistent and I think that the allegations against Mr. Franken are pretty significant,” Tillis said. “The fact that we had 10 Democrat members call for his resignation today suggests that they even have information that we’ve not yet seen. That needs to be a subject of the Senate investigation and if the allegations are true, he should go.”
However, some Republicans agreed with the avalanche of Democrats that Franken should resign outright.
John Thune, one of the top Republicans in the Senate, said, “That’s a decision obviously that Senator Franken has to make between him and his constituents” adding, “I think that’s the right call given kind of what we know.”
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott echoed what he said about Roy Moore, the GOP’s embattled Senate candidate in Alabama who is facing accusations of sexual misconduct himself.
“I would say the same thing about Senator Franken that I said about Roy Moore, which is both need to find something else to do,” he said.
Republicans are still struggling with what to do about Roy Moore
Several women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct and pursuing relationships with them when they were as young as 14 years old.
While President Donald Trump endorsed Moore this week and the Republican National Committee reinstated financial support for him, he will immediately hit a wall in the Senate, as many Republicans noted.
“I’ve said before that I thought Roy Moore ought to step aside,” Thune said. “I think he’s gonna face a lot of the same issues when he gets here.”
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said that while Republicans would have no choice but to seat Moore if he wins, “it probably doesn’t bode well” for his future to be faced with so many allegations of sexual misconduct.
Tillis said “if the election in Alabama produces a win for Mr. Moore it too needs to be subject to an ethics investigation and we go from there,” echoing the same hesitancy he has with the case with Franken.
“I think each case should be determined on its own facts,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said.
Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said commenting on Moore “would be speculation.”
“I don’t want to speculate until the voters get done,” he said. “When it comes to Roy Moore and me, I didn’t endorse him so I didn’t have to withdraw my endorsement.”
“I don’t support his candidacy,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said. “I don’t like the RNC doing it, but that’s their decision to make.”
Graham noted that Moore will not just face his own problems in the Senate, but will be a stain on Republicans up and down the ballot in the coming election cycle next year.
“If you think Roy Moore wins and is a plus for Republicans, you’re naive because he’ll be on the ballot in every race in 2018, whether you want him to be or not,” he added. “There’s no winning in my view with Roy Moore.”